L.A. City Council Votes To Ban Polystyrene, Plastic Bags

Our friends up in SF became the first US city to ban plastic bags from its stores, and now Los Angeles will be following suit.

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday banned foam food containers from city buildings [and city-sponsored events], beginning July 1, 2009, and ordered plastic bags to be pulled from store checkout counters by July 1, 2010.

After July 1, 2010, consumers will have to use their own canvas bags or pay 25 cents for a paper or biodegradable bag. Of that fee, 3 percent would go to the retailer, 3 percent will go to the state, and the rest of the money will go back to the city to fund an education campaign.

Consumers in the city of Los Angeles use 2.3 billion plastic bags a year. [full story]

Elsewhere in the nation, Seattle is considering a ban of foam containers at restaurants and grocery stores (not just city buildings and events), and impose a 20-cent fee for each disposable paper and plastic bag used in the checkout line at all grocery, convenience and drugstores. The proposed Seattle ban would even extend to plastics such as little sauce containers and food utensils like forks, knives, and spoons.

Ann Arbor may even join the no bag party

But the folks in Baltimore, for now anyway, have decided they want their paper and plastic bags; their attempt to enact a ban failed last night.

Despite these baby steps forward of city-initiated bans, as a nation, the U.S. is lagging way far behind on this, with nations like Australia, Taiwan , Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and even China already banning plastic bags.

Anyway, you can practice not getting a bag now by bringing your own re-usable bag or just by saying “no”… take a cue from The Abe Lincoln Story, a A 10-piece LA band who turned the phrase “I don’t need a bag” into a song.


h/t: greenlagirl

6 thoughts on “L.A. City Council Votes To Ban Polystyrene, Plastic Bags”

  1. I prefer paper or bringing my own bag but I get plastic to use as poop bags for my dog. So now I gotta go all Sophie’s Choice* between being a responsible dog owner or being a responsible citizen? Damn.

    (Just kidding, I’ll still scoop poo. Or get 8-Track Kid to do it.)

  2. Man. In addition to not really agreeing with the conceit of this law,
    I re-use those bags. Rules like this punish me unfairly.

    Other things about this that I hate:

    “3 percent would go to the retailer”

    What?!? Why are we taking money from me and handing it to the store?! What’s that for? They’re doing less work than they used to (by bagging less groceries into plastic bags; I suspect the people with canvas bags are going to participate in the bagging process much more actively), and they’re going to save money (by using fewer plastic bags that they have to pay for), and we’re going to hand them bonus cash for the privilege? I don’t understand.

    “3 percent will go to the state”

    Just a bribe to get the state to let you do this? I don’t understand why the city is handing money to the state.

    “and the rest of the money will go back to the city to fund an
    education campaign.”

    This drives me nuts. I HATE HATE taxes that go to a specific purpose. Just put it in the pool of tax revenue, and then spend from the general pool. The problem is that this makes people much more gung ho about spending money that either they think they’re not going to have to pay for, or that they simply don’t see as coming from the state coffers. It’s a lot easier to say “hey, we want something new, let’s raise a tax on something that I see as a luxury and make those people pay for it” than to say “hey, we want this as a state, let’s pay for it as a state.” It promotes a free wheeling, quick-spending atmosphere. It also locks you out of sources of revenue when you need it for something else that’s potentially more important.

    Also, I don’t really know what this education campaign is going to be, but if it’s “Hey, it’s now more expensive to use the plastic bags that you used to use for free” I don’t think they’re really going to need to spend much money — word will get out on its own.

  3. I’m really excited about this. Maybe the clerks will stop staring at me when I ask them to use the bags I brought along. I usually bag most of my own groceries and other items because they are so confused.

    Now I know what I’m getting everyone for Christmas that lives in LA.

  4. Yet another elitist law that will ultimately end up hurting those who can least afford it.

    Our city council should be worrying less about plastic bags and more about bringing in new business.

  5. As green as I am, these laws are so stupid. So, can I just charge the City Council for all the trash bags, I’m going to have to buy for all the little trash cans around my house? Will Villaraigosa come over and pick up the dog shit, my neighbor’s dog leaves on my lawn? How am I now supposed to transport wet clothes after a day at the beach or someone’s pool?

    What about all the poor people who don’t have money to waste on a ridiculously small $50 organic hemp bag, complete with holier-than-thou soy-based statements printed on them? They reuse those bags too.

    What I don’t get is why the city doesn’t provide incentives to a business that makes biodegradable plastic bags, like out of cornstarch? Or why not do a visible push to get people to not litter? This is all stuff I’ve written to my councilman, but I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that he voted for this. Nevermind that wayward plastic bags is the least of his worries in this area.

  6. Seeing how much plastic and styrofoam litter from the entire county gets washed into the harbor at Long Beach every time it rains, I’ll be interested in seeing if this ban will make a significant difference. I’m hoping so, but time will tell.

    Maybe the tax revenue from selling bags should go toward educating people not to litter! Slobs who treat the city streets like their personal trash cans and ashtrays are the ones who make this kind of legislation come to pass. Obviously it’s a big enough problem that some kind of action is necessary.

    And you certainly don’t have to pay $50 for reusable hemp bags (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Vons (and, I imagine, other grocers) sell cloth bags that are about the same size as regular paper bags for about a buck each.

    When plastic bags are a little less ubiquitous, I imagine dog owners will find a way to dispose of those steaming little turdpiles that get left behind — perhaps in researching how it was done before plastic was invented!

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